Moral Outrage
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Julian Assange and WikiLeaks incentives for Corporations and Governments to behave ethically

The Wikileaks revolution isn’t only about airing secrets and transacting information. It’s about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies.

In a Wikileaks world, the greater the number of people who intimately understand your organization, the more candidates there are for revealing that information to millions of voyeurs.

Granted, Julian Assange himself doesn’t purport to want to destroy large organizations. In his public statements, he says he simply wants to create powerful incentives for them to behave ethically. “It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more affected negatively by leaks than honest businesses,” he told Forbes.

He illustrates with the example of Chinese baby formula companies. Pre-Wikileaks, the entire industry had to follow suit when one manufacturer started skimping on protein, or risk being undercut by the lower-cost competitor. Thanks to Wikileaks, there’s a huge risk of being exposed, which discourages the skimper from cheating in the first place.

More likely, companies and governments will begin to fear the leaking of sensitive proprietary information whether they’re behaving ethically or not, because Wikileaks can’t ensure that only the unethical get exposed. Its definition of unethical clearly extends to organizations—like the U.S. State and Defense Departments—that see themselves as behaving ethically.

[The New Republic]


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